Guidelines for Chairmen and Convenors

This version of the Handbook has been updated on
Aug. 27, 2015 to reflect new Executive Secretary and eliminate gender specific language
Oct. 2, 2008 based on the new Rules of Procedure (Sept. 1, 2006)

Roles and Responsibilities of Chairmen and Members of PICES Groups

I. Introduction

Formal definitions and rules concerning the authority, responsibility, membership, and activities of the scientific groups of PICES can be found in the Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Procedure and the PICES Convention take precedence over these Roles and Responsibilities, should any discrepancies be discovered. This document is intended to provide basic information and guidance on practical matters associated with the conducting the scientific business of the Organization, and is expansion of Rule 18 in the Rules of Procedure.

The Secretariat maintains official lists of the members of all PICES Committees and expert groups on its website. These lists are updated only after a formal notification by a national Delegate. In accordance with Decisions 03/S/7(ii) and 04/S/7(ii), national membership lists have also been included as Appendices in the Annual Reports since 2003.

II. Science Board

The Science Board (SB) is one of two Executive Committees under the Governing Council of PICES. SB is responsible for overseeing the scientific activities of the Organization, and the position of SB Chairman is the most senior scientific position in PICES. Details on the functions, membership and leadership of SB and on the nomination/election procedure for the SB Chairman are described in Rules 12 and 17 of the Rules of Procedure.

  • In preparation for the Annual Meeting, the SB Chairman shall:
  • establish, in consultation with the Executive Secretary, a schedule of SB meetings at the Annual Meeting;
  • develop, in consultation with SB members and the Executive Secretary, a draft agenda for SB business; the draft agenda will take the form of a briefing book (an annotated agenda with adequate description and background to allow members to understand the discussion/decisions/actions required at the meeting);
  • distribute the draft agenda to SB members at least 60 days prior to the Annual Meeting to allow time for review and discussion;
  • advise SB members of topics requiring Committee/Scientific Program discussion at the Annual Meeting;
  • provide provisional agendas for meetings of SB and all its subsidiary bodies to the Secretariat for posting on the PICES website at least 30 days prior to the Annual Meeting.
  • During the Annual Meeting, the SB Chairman shall:
  • chairman all meetings of SB;
  • review the state of PICES science at the Opening Session;
  • introduce winners of the Wooster Award and the PICES Ocean Monitoring Service Award at the Opening Session;
  • introduce a keynote speaker and chairman, with other members of SB, at the Science Board Symposium;
  • oversee scientific award procedures;
  • chairman the Closing Session, including award presentations (SB Chairman presents the award for best oral presentation at the SB Symposium), and provide participants with a short summary of the major results of the Annual Meeting;
  • present and discuss SB activities and recommendations at a meeting of the Governing Council.
  • After the Annual Meeting, the SB Chairman shall:
  • report decisions of the Governing Council to SB members;
  • compile the SB report for the Annual Report within 60 days of the end of the Annual Meeting;
  • write an article for PICES Press describing the results of the Annual Meeting within 30 days of the end of the Annual Meeting;
  • plan and chairman inter-sessional meetings of SB, as required;
  • represent the general scientific interests of the Organization at other meetings and events, as required.

III. Scientific and Technical Committees

The Committees of PICES are established by SB, with the approval of the Governing Council, as ongoing groups and are organized according to scientific or technical subjects. Scientific Committees are responsible for the planning, direction, and overseeing of major themes within the Organization’s general scientific aims, and Technical Committees are responsible for facilitating the technical and operational activities required to support the Organization’s science. Each Committee is responsible for overseeing the activities of their subsidiary bodies and for determining priorities for consideration by the Science Board and the Governing Council. Details on the functions, membership and leadership of the Committees and on the election procedure for a Committee Chairman are described in Rules 13, 14 and 17 of the Rules of Procedure. Regardless of membership, under normal circumstances, all participants who are registered for an Annual Meeting may attend meetings of PICES Scientific and Technical Committees and/or their subsidiary bodies to participate in discussion.

  • Responsibilities of the Chairman of a Scientific/Technical Committee involve:
  • representing the interests of the Committee as a member of SB;
  • communicating with, and fostering communication among Committee members;
  • maintaining an up-to-date Action Plan to indicate how the Committee's activities are, or will, achieve goals under the PICES Strategic Plan;
  • reviewing regularly the performance of the Committee with respect to its Action Plan;
  • chairing Committee meetings;
  • developing a draft agenda for Committee meetings, in consultation with its members, Chairmen of its subsidiary bodies, and with the SB Chairman, for distribution at least 60 days prior to any meetings and submitting the provisional agenda to the Secretariat for posting on the PICES website at least 30 days prior to the Annual Meeting;
  • preparing an annual report for SB of the results achieved by the Committee and its subsidiary bodies, their proposed and planned activities;
  • providing the Secretariat a major comprehensive report of the Committee's activities for the Annual Report within 30 days of the end of the Annual Meeting.
  • The Chairman of a Scientific/Technical Committee shall, in consultation with members of the Committee, prepare the following information for SB meetings:
  • itemized summary of the work done and results achieved by the Committee and its subsidiary bodies, with reference to terms of reference and a Committee Action Plan;
  • recommendations for SB;
  • proposed themes for Annual Meetings;
  • proposed Topic Sessions/Workshops for the next Annual Meeting (see Annual Meetings/Topic Sessions, below);
  • proposals for new expert groups (Sections, Working Groups, Advisory Panels), including terms of reference and potential membership;
  • proposals for inter-sessional meetings, including description, date and venue;
  • recommendations for publications for the next year.

IV. Sections

A Scientific Committee, with the endorsement of SB and approval by the Governing Council, may delegate responsibility for oversight of a scientific discipline to a Section. The Section is responsible to, and is reviewed regularly by, the parent Scientific Committee. Details on the functions, membership and leadership of the Section and on the selection of the Section Co-Chairmen are described in Rules 13 and 17 of the Rules of Procedure.

V. Working Groups, Study Groups, Advisory Panels


A new scientific ad hoc group in PICES is typically formed as a result of scientists in Contracting Parties identifying a need, developing a proposal, and seeking the support of one or more Scientific or Technical Committees for its establishment. Should a recommendation to create a group arise from a Committee, it will be discussed by SB and if endorsed, a recommendation is forwarded to the Governing Council for decision. The initial list of potential group members is usually, but not always, developed by the proponents of a new group. The number of members in an expert group typically ranges between 15 and 24. Subject to any restrictions on membership identified in the Rules of Procedure, it is desirable to have at least one member from each of the PICES Contracting Parties. In cases where the organizers have not suggested members from a country; the appropriate Delegates will be asked by the Executive Secretary to do so. Membership by citizens of the Contracting Parties requires the formal approval of their Delegate(s); noting that Delegates are free to appoint members other than (or in addition to) those recommended by the proponents of the group. Delegates will ensure that: a) members appointed are interested and committed to working toward the goals of the group; and b) funds are provided to members to attend scheduled group activities.

A Working Group is established by a Scientific Committee to undertake specific terms of reference and to report to the Organization on their findings. An Advisory Panel is formed to coordinate and provide scientific advice on a field or experimental activities of a Scientific Committee or scientific program. A Study Group is established by the Governing Council or Executive Committee to consider any scientific, policy, advisory and/or financial issues of interest to the Organization. Details on the functions, membership and leadership of these ad hoc groups are described in Rules 13, 15 and 17 of the Rules of Procedure.

A Chairman (or Co-Chairmen) of an ad hoc group is appointed by the Governing Council according to Rule 17(v) of the Rules of Procedure. Accordingly, it is best to identify leadership candidates in the initial proposal to a Committee. The term of the appointment shall begin when the membership of the group has been confirmed by the Executive Secretary. The Chairman or Co-Chairmen will normally serve for the lifetime of the group. As is the practice with most PICES ad hoc groups, any selection of two or more Co-Chairmen should include leaders from Contracting Parties on opposite sides of the Pacific. In the event that a group member must be replaced, either by their own choosing or if, in the judgment of the (Co-)Chairman , members are not contributing to the group, the Co-Chairmen must notify the Executive Secretary of the situation and if possible, recommend a replacement.

  • Chairmen are responsible for:
  • ensuring the successful completion of the terms of reference of the group within the timeframe approved by the Governing Council;
  • maintaining good communication among group members;
  • maintaining good communication with the parent Committee(s) by:
    • preparing written progress reports for their parent Committee (at most twice annually);
    • attending meetings of the parent Committee(s), as required;
  • planning and implementing activities of the group;
  • reporting, if requested, group activities in the PICES newsletter;
  • developing a draft agenda for distribution at least 60 days prior to any meetings of the group;
  • providing a provisional agenda to the Secretariat at 30 days prior to the meeting;
  • preparing final reports to the parent Committee(s) for review at the end of the assignment; typically, these are published as a PICES Scientific Report.

Working Environment

Ad hoc groups are free to establish a schedule for their activities. Meetings or workshops will typically be held in conjunction with the PICES Annual Meeting as most members are expected to attend. Inter-sessional meetings, if required, should be recommended to, and endorsed by, the parent Committee(s) at the Annual Meeting. The PICES Secretariat typically provides logistical support to organize these activities.

Keys to Success

At the inter-sessional PICES Science Board Meeting in April 2005, Dr. Michael Foreman was asked to assess the performance of all PICES Working Groups, Study Groups, and Task Teams. Letters were sent to past and present Chairmen or Co-Chairmen asking them to address the following issues:

  • specific successes, failures and impacts of the group;
  • the overall working group concept, processes, procedures and how they could be improved;
  • the influence of the working group on the direction of the science that was its focus;
  • the key ingredients for a successful working group;
  • other relevant comments.
  • The key ingredients for a successful working group were found to be:
  • A clear mandate;
  • Resources (funding and time);
  • Collaboration with other organizations outside PICES;
  • Leadership;
  • Enthusiasm;
  • Active and dedicated members;
  • Frequent communications. The PICES website maintains e-mail address lists for all groups and has created a facility for sending correspondence to all group members. Password-protected web-pages can be created to facilitate the exchange of opinions, files and data.


Contracting Parties are responsible for the financial costs of sending members to meetings. Requests by a group to offset the travel costs of invited speakers to meetings/workshops (either annual or inter-sessional) should be identified by a parent Committee(s) for endorsement by SB and approval by the Governing Council. Alternatively, funds for inter-sessional meeting/workshop and for research specified in the terms of reference may be raised independently by the group members, either by submitting proposals to national or international agencies, or from available resources at their home institutions.


Ad hoc groups are required to submit an annual summary report of their activities and progress made to their parent Committee for discussion at the Annual Meeting. This written summary will be included in the PICES Annual Report. The results of inter-sessional meetings or workshops should be described in an article for the PICES Press newsletter and, depending on the nature of the results, considered for publication in the PICES Scientific Report Series. A final report must also be submitted for publication at the end of the group's lifetime. Publishing a group's best results in the primary peer-reviewed literature is encouraged, and Committee Chairman should be advised of any intentions by a group to do so.

VI. Integrative Scientific Programs

The Governing Council has the responsibility to identify research priorities and scientific problems pertaining to the area concerned, as well as appropriate methods for their solution. Coordinated research programs and related activities of common interest shall be undertaken through national efforts of the Contracting Parties. Scientific Programs are major initiatives of the Organization on topics of significant importance to the Contracting Parties.

(Roles and responsibilities to be determined for Integrative Scientific Program)

VII. Annual Meetings


SB, in consultation with the Delegates of the host country and the Executive Secretary, will select a theme for an Annual Meeting at least 2 years before that meeting will take place. The theme selected will be a topic of broad interest to the scientific community and will form the basis of the Science Board Symposium of that meeting.


SB will develop a program of activities for an Annual Meeting (typically 5 days in duration) based on recommendations brought to it by its members. Activities currently include Science Board Symposium, Topic Sessions, Paper Sessions, and Poster/E-Poster Sessions.

Keynote Speaker

The host country will identify a Keynote Speaker at least 1 year prior to an Annual Meeting.

Topic Sessions

Chairmen of Scientific/Technical Committees and Scientific Program are responsible for developing, either jointly with other committees/programs or individually, proposals for Topic Sessions.

  • Each proposal to SB shall include:
  • title;
  • convenor(s) names and contact information;
  • blurb (background and objectives of the session - 250 words);
  • duration;
  • invited speaker candidates - Speakers are invited with the understanding they will make an important contribution to the session and potentially, to the Annual Meeting. In general, they should not be national appointees to subsidiary bodies of the Organization.

Chairmen of Scientific/Technical Committees and Programs are responsible for finalizing the details of Topic Sessions sponsored by their committee/program within 1 month of the close of an Annual Meeting to facilitate the preparation of the next Annual Meeting announcement by the Executive Secretary.

Paper/Poster Sessions

Chairmen of Scientific/Technical Committees and Programs are responsible for convening the Paper Sessions and/or Poster Sessions sponsored by their group.


The Executive Secretary, in consultation with the SB Chairman, is responsible for the schedule of events.

VIII. Convenors and Session Chairmen

  • Convenors are responsible for:
  • the organization, execution, and reporting of a session;
  • the selection of invited speakers and, in consultation with the sponsoring Committee Chairman, the allocation of any funds earmarked for the session among invitees;
  • identifying co-sponsors (organizations with similar interests who are prepared to support the session);
  • reviewing contributed abstracts for consistency with the topic, and returning those which are not to the Secretariat;
  • selecting oral and poster presentations, including the identification of "backup" oral presentations from among the posters in case of last minute cancellation (a not uncommon occurrence);
  • advising the Secretariat of any unique technical requirements for the session;
  • editing abstracts accepted for their session;
  • preparing a preliminary schedule of oral presentations, in consultation with the Executive Secretary, and returning the outcome to the Secretariat by the deadline set by the Secretariat (typically July 31 for Annual Meetings);
  • ensuring that invited speakers register for the meeting and submit an abstract via the PICES website before July 31;
  • confirming the final schedule and list of oral presentations at the Annual Meeting with the Secretariat.
  • Chairing the Topic Session includes:
  • ensuring that all electronic presentations are filed with the Secretariat;
  • designating a rapporteur(s) to record discussion, if required;
  • recruiting Co-Chairmen for the session, if desired;
  • introducing speakers;
  • keeping to the timetable to maintain the synchrony of parallel sessions;
  • organizing questions/comments from the audience;
  • providing the Secretariat with a summary of the important results and discussion that occurred at the session, preferably before leaving the Annual Meeting.
  • determining the degree of interest of the participants in publishing the papers presented at the session as a special issue of a primary journal or as a PICES Scientific Report (optional); if yes, in consultation with the Executive Secretary, developing a formal recommendation for SB (via by the parent Committee(s)), including the names of Editors of the volume.

IX. PICES Awards

Wooster Award (Decision 00/S/6)

The PICES Wooster Award is named in honour of Professor Warren S. Wooster, a principal founder and the first Chairman of PICES, and a world-renowned researcher and statesman in the area of climate variability and fisheries production. The award is given annually to an individual who has made significant scientific contributions to North Pacific marine science, such as understanding and predicting the role of human and climate interactions on marine ecosystem production.

The award consists of a plaque with the recipient's name engraved on it. The recipient will also receive financial support to attend the next PICES Annual Meeting at which the award is given. A large plaque is maintained at the PICES Secretariat with the names of all the award winners over the years.

The main criteria for choosing recipients are sustained excellence in research, teaching, administration or a combination of the three in the area of North Pacific marine science. Special consideration is given to individuals who have worked in integrating the disciplines of marine science. Individuals who were, or are, currently actively involved in PICES activities are preferred but the award may be given to any suitable candidate, including those from outside PICES member countries.

Nominations are solicited annually from the PICES community although the award may not be given every year if a suitable candidate is not found. The Selection Committee consists of the PICES SB and the PICES Chairman, and the Award is given by the PICES Chairman at an Opening Session during the PICES Annual Meeting. Nominations of individuals not selected are rolled over to the next year in order to keep a large pool of potential candidates.

Nominations must be received no later that May 1 of each year and include the following information: nominee's name, institutional affiliation and title, address and biographical resume, and statement of justification for the nomination.

PICES Ocean Monitoring Service Award (Decision 07/A/9)


Progress in many aspects of marine science is based on ocean observations, monitoring, and the management and dissemination of the data provided by these activities. Long-term monitoring observations are particularly critical to detecting and understanding ecosystem changes. It is widely recognized that these fundamental activities often lack the glamour and respect that typically accompanies scientific achievements that rely on monitoring and observation. Unfortunately, the consequences are that monitoring activities are often taken for granted or even targeted for budget cuts when PICES member countries experience financial constraints. With this in mind, it was proposed at the 2006 Annual Meeting in Yokohama, Japan, that a new PICES award be established to acknowledge monitoring and data management activities that contribute to the progress of marine science in the North Pacific. The principles of the award were approved at the 2007 inter-sessional Science Board/Governing Council meeting, also in Yokohama, and the name and description of the award were finalized at the 2007 Annual Meeting in Victoria, Canada.


The PICES Ocean Monitoring Service Award (POMA) aims to recognize organizations, groups and outstanding individuals that have contributed significantly to the advancement of marine science in the North Pacific through long-term ocean monitoring and data management. The award also strives to enlighten the public on the importance of those activities as fundamental to marine science. It draws attention to an important aspect of the PICES Convention that is not so much in the limelight: "to promote the collection and exchange of information and data related to marine scientific research in the area concerned."


The award is given for significant contributions to the progress of marine science in the North Pacific through long-term monitoring operations, management of data associated with ocean conditions and marine bio-resources in the region, or both categories. Recipients may include, for example, research vessels, research or administrative institutes or portions thereof, or technical groups involved in monitoring, data management and dissemination, or a combination of these activities. Outstanding individual efforts may also be recognized.

Nomination and Selection

Nominations from individuals or groups from PICES member countries should be sent with supporting documentation to the Executive Secretary by the deadline specified in the Call for Nominations at the PICES website. The Technical Committee on Monitoring (MONITOR) and Technical Committee on Data Exchange (TCODE) will evaluate independently the documents submitted with each nomination, and recommend some or all of the nominations for consideration by SB. Evaluations will include the relevance, duration and balance of activities (ocean observation, resource monitoring, data management, etc.). If more than one nomination is considered worthy of recognition by MONITOR or TCODE, rank preferences will be provided to SB by each Technical Committee. A maximum of one award will be given each year. To keep a large pool of potential candidates, SB will reserve any surplus of recommendations for review in subsequent years. Those nominated but not recommended by a Technical Committee must be re-submitted if they are to be considered for the next year.

Award and Presentation

The award consists of a certificate signed by the PICES Chairman and the PICES SB Chairman, which will be presented to the recipients (or their representative) at the Opening Session of the PICES Annual Meeting. No financial support from PICES will be provided to the recipient to attend the Annual Meeting where the award is given. Should any representative be unable to attend the Annual Meeting, a Delegate of the recipient's country will be asked to accept the award on behalf of the recipient.

X. Guidelines for co-sponsorship of scientific meetings/symposia

  • The subject of the scientific meetings/symposia must contribute to fulfilling PICES objectives.
  • Formal requests by organizations to co-sponsor events must be sent to the Executive Secretary.
  • In consultation with the SB Chairman, the request will be sent to the appropriate Committee for review and recommendations.
  • Committees will review the requests and forward their recommendations to the SB Chairman.
  • SB will review Committee recommendations, forwarding endorsements, with suggestions on the degree of financial and scientific commitment by PICES, to the Governing Council for approval.
  • The Executive Secretary will advise the organization(s) of the decision.

XI. Guidelines concerning formal requests for advice from PICES (Decision 93/A/5)

Procedure for responding to requests for scientific advice received from Contracting Parties:

  • Upon receiving a written request for advice, the Chairman of PICES will refer the question to SB, who will form an ad hoc committee to respond to the question.
  • The advice from this ad hoc committee will be referred to SB for review, and forwarded by the Chairman for consideration by the Governing Council before sending it to the requesting party.
  • If there were a need for establishing a permanent mechanism for providing advice to a certain party, then the ad hoc committee could be made permanent and it could be empowered by the Governing Council to respond directly to requests.

Procedure for responding to requests for scientific advice from other organizations:

  • Upon receiving a written request for scientific advice from another organization, the Chairman of PICES will refer the question to SB, who will propose a process (e.g., refer to existing Committee or to an ad hoc working group as appropriate) to address the request.
  • The question and SB proposal for addressing it will be then referred to the Governing Council for approval before action is undertaken.
  • The advice generated will be handled in the same manner as advice offered in response to a request from Contracting Parties (reviewed by SB, and considered by the Governing Council before being sent to the requesting organization).